Nuna Project is being developed within Kuparuk River Unit, North Slope, Alaska. Credit: ConocoPhillips Company.
The Nuna development includes developing 29 wells, on-pad infrastructure, and pipelines. (Representative image). Credit: Pattadon Ajarasingh/
The Nuna project will be developed by expanding the existing 3T drill site (DS-3T) at the Kuparuk River Unit. (Representative image). Credit: Maximov Denis/

The Nuna project is an onshore oilfield development being undertaken by ConocoPhillips (Alaska) in the North Slope of Alaska, US.

ConocoPhillips Alaska entered an agreement with Caelus Natural Resources Alaska to fully acquire the Nuna prospect in June 2019. The purchase included 11 tracts spread over 21,000 acres and a gravel road with a drill site.

Funding for the development of the Nuna project was approved in June 2023. Construction work is expected to start in 2023 with pipeline and on-pad construction planned for 2024. The project is expected to produce 20,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) at its peak.

The project will support further development and production of petroleum reserves within the Kuparuk River Unit.

Nuna project location and discovery details

The Nuna project is located to the east of the Colville River. The site is located within the Kuparuk River Unit (KRU) located approximately 64km (40 miles) west of Deadhorse, Alaska. The site lies about 8km (5 miles) southwest of the Oooguruk Field.

The prospect was discovered in 2012. The permit to develop the project was initially owned by Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska, which transferred it to Caelus Energy in September 2014.

Nuna project development details

Caleus completed the construction of the drill site 3T (DS-3T) gravel pad and an access road. Two wells were also drilled within the Torok Formation by Caelus, which were suspended in 2013. The project will support the production of oil from Moraine Reservoir within the Torok Formation.

The permit for the construction of two Class I Non-Hazardous Industrial waste injection wells

to be drilled and constructed at the Nuna project site was issued in April 2016. The Unit Plan of Operations for the development of the Nuna Project at DS-3T was submitted to the Oil and Gas Division of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources in November 2022.

Drilling activities are expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2024 and will extend through 2027, while the first oil is anticipated in the second quarter of 2025. The DS-3T gravel work is set to commence in August 2023 and will include pipeline casing installations.

The single production module is expected to be delivered in the summer of 2024. Construction of pipelines will commence in November 2023, while pipeline hydrostatic testing will commence in August 2024.

Nuna project details

The Nuna project involves the development of 29 wells out of 50 permitted wells, on-pad infrastructure, and pipelines at DS-3T.

It will be tied back to the existing KRU processing facilities via 4.82km (3 miles) of new pipelines. Power will be supplied from the DS-3S drill site located 3.7km (2.3 miles) away, via a 34.5kV transmission line. The power line will be attached to the proposed pipelines via messenger cable.

The pipelines planned for connecting to the DS-3S infrastructure will consist of a 16-inch diameter oil pipeline, an eight-inch diameter water injection pipeline and an eight-inch diameter gas injection pipeline.

The pipelines are planned to be installed on 320 vertical support members and new horizontal support members.

Drill Site expansion details

The drilling of wells requires the expansion of the southeast side of the DS-3T gravel pad consisting of an existing 19.6-acre gravel pad, a 1.4km-long gravel access road and two wells earlier suspended in 2023.

The gravel pad is planned to be expanded by one acre, the 1.6km (2.9-mile) access road by two acres and the access road intersection close to DS 3T by 0.7 acres.

The DS-3T gravel pad is proposed to be expanded by adding 52,200 cubic yards of clean gravel onto 3.73 acres of tundra.

Kuparuk River Unit details

The Kuparuk oilfield was discovered in 1969 and is operated by ConocoPhillips with a 94.5% stake. Chevron and ExxonMobil hold 4.9% and 0.6% stakes respectively in the field. The field is located 64km west of Prudhoe Bay.

The field infrastructure includes three central production facilities and a seawater treatment plant. The field currently has more than 500 active wells. The average production from Kuparuk was 47 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2022.

Tarn, Tabasco, West Sak and Meltwater are the satellite fields tied back to the Kuparuk production facilities.

Contractors involved in the Nuna project

Cruz Construction provided construction services including mobilisation and operation of the remote camp, development of the mine site, construction of the road, placing gravel for the road and pad improvement and associated facilities for the Nuna onshore oil project.